Sebastian Schmieg /Parallel Universes/

Posted on: October 10th, 2014 by & No Comments


The 1999 Movie “Office Space” remade into two versions: one that does not contain any of the original dialogs, released as a screensaver through ScreenSaverGallery, and its counterpart in which everything in-between dialogs has been edited out, distributed through file sharing as an optimized version of the movie.

“Parallel Universes” approaches narratives of efficiency and relevance deeply woven into and amplified by computational culture by looking back at a time when computers were mainly considered office appliances. It utilizes an efficiency strategy described in Douglas Coupland’s novel “Microserfs” and applies it to the Mike Judge movie “Office Space”.

Both “Microserfs” and “Office Space” focus on programmers in the 1990ies. The former Microsoft-employed programmers in Coupland’s novel are working hard and enthusiastically on their new project. Realizing that they do in effect need some time away from the keyboard every now and then – but not willing to waste any time – they find watching foreign movies with subtitles, fast-forwarding through scenes without dialog to be the most efficient and least time-consuming way to relax.

A few years later the rather unmotivated programmers in “Office Space” – updating software for the year 2000 switch – become subject to strategies of optimization themselves: external efficiency consultants are interviewing employees, amongst them the movie’s protagonists; a process that leads to numerous lay-offs. In a truly nineties twist, the main protagonist finds happiness as a construction worker cleaning up debris of the burned down company office and computers.

A solution to which viewers of the screensaver can only arrive by not touching their computers for the duration of the modified movie.

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